Williamsburg resident Joseph Johnston was elected to serve as the Disabled American Veterans National Commander Aug. 13.
According to a release from the Disabled American Veterans, Johnston was unanimously elected at the organization’s 92nd annual national convention in Orlando, Fla.
Johnston is a life member of the DAV Chapter 63 in Williamsburg and has served in many of the DAV’s elected and appointed offices.
During his speech at the convention, Johnston recognized his wife, Vicki, his children and other family members who support him, many of whom are also involved in the military and DAV.
“So you don’t just get me today, you get the whole Johnston clan,” Johnston said during his speech at the convention. “And I hope your family is also aflame with the desire to create new tomorrows as well, because we need everyone in this great mission.”
He said in his speech that each person is crucial in forming the future of the fellowship called the DAV and its cause.
“This is why, as I accept the great responsibility you place on my shoulders this afternoon, I turn around and place my greatest hopes upon your shoulders,” Johnston said during his speech. “I don’t want you to leave this hall inspired this afternoon, I want your spirits to be filled with fire as you head back to your chapter and your department.”
Johnston talked about some of the challenges the DAV faces in the future during his speech, including the importance of ensuring the integrity of the Department of Veterans Affairs health care infrastructure.
“It’s chilling to imagine what lies ahead for the next generation of veterans when we literally are not building a future for them today,” Johnston said in his speech.
Johnston said they must work to maintain DAV’s reputation for integrity and good management of the funds the American people donate to their cause.
Johnston said they must also expand their outreach to the public so that people keep veterans forever in their thoughts.
He asked chapter and department leaders to look for ways they can engage veterans in the community and encourage others to become involved.
“Thank you for allowing me to serve as your national commander and thank you for everything you do to empower your organization and the veterans you and I serve together,” Johnston said during his speech at the convention.
Johnston served in the United States Army in both the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. He enlisted in 1966 and later became a commissioned officer serving as an Army ranger and paratrooper. He retired from the Army in 1992.
He was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in 2007.
In addition to his military career, Johnston earned his master’s degree in business and executive management from Central Michigan University and the Army’s Command and General Staff College.
According to the release, Johnston brings 20 years of experience in management and finance to the position. He has worked for non-profit organizations and currently serves as chief operations officer of the Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services.
Johnston was recognized as a Cincinnati CFO of the year and earned the Greater Cincinnati Second Act Award in 2011.
In his new position, Johnston will serve as commander of the 1.2 million-member DAV.
According to the DAV website, the organization strives to empower veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity and is dedicated to fulfilling promises to the men and women who served.
For more information about Disabled American Veterans, or to view Johnston’s speech at the convention, visit www.dav.org.